It's November, which means good eats and family drama. But more importantly, its Native American Heritage Month. The article below explains why author, Nya Hodge thinks we need to scrap our normal traditions.
This year has given us time, too much time, to reflect on what we’re thankful for. But as you sit down with your family this year, albeit over Zoom, or with masks, do you think about the origins of this holiday? Now I don’t blame you if you don't, America does a wonderful job of erasing its atrocities to make history more digestible for those with the privilege to ignore it. But this nationally celebrated holiday has its roots in genocide and white supremacy, and if we want to be good allies, and good Americans, we need to acknowledge and help fix the wounds of this history. (And Native American Heritage month, which carries on through the whole month of November.)
"If we want to be good allies, good Americans, we must acknowledge and help fix the wounds of this history."
The story as we’ve been told is an injustice to Indigenous peoples; A feast of companionship between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe that celebrated the bountiful fall harvest. An alliance between the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims that lead to the Pilgrims salvation. A happily celebrated American tradition.
This story is a lie.
The Wampanoag did help the Pilgrims survive, but there is no historical evidence to prove they were invited to the dinner. And shortly after the harvest “festival”, the European Colonizers sold Wampanoag people into slavery, publicly executed them, and jailed them. The Wampanoags, and other Natives, were massacred and stolen from after being forced into an alliance with the Pilgrims. But this history is ignored.
And though it’s true, the culture significance of Thanksgiving has changed ever since Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday in an effort to unite the country after the Civil War, the scars of the holiday are still harmful to Native communities. After your Thanksgiving dinner this year, educate yourself. Support Indigenous communities, and maybe even celebrate Truthsgiving; a movement and pledge started by Native communities to help unerase white washed history.
To get you started on your education, here are some great Indigenous activists, and works to support:
Charitie’s just really cool. She’s our age, and a great voice to follow.
organization: White Earth Land Recovery Project
This organization focuses on environmentalism and protecting Native American cultural heritage.
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee
by David Treuer
This book is both a blend of history and memoir, as Treur explains how the wounds of his community exist in his life today.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
by Alexie Sherman
Sherman speaks to his experiences of being one of two Natives after transferring to an all-white farm school.